From radio to twitter. How the surge of social media changes the efforts to prevent and reduce alcohol harm…

A national TV show Satyamev Jayate (Truth Alone Prevails ) flashed the Alcoholic Anonymous’s helpline numbers and website details in its ninth episode.

AA centers across India had received more than 31,000 calls. In my view, A.A. is a parallel social movement, which has been growing world wide in its own natural way because of strict adherence to its traditions.

With the far reaching technological advancements television, radio and social websites have become interactive with the potential to bring  in changes and work as catalysts in social transformation. With interactivity these media have helped bring into sharp focus stigmatized issues like alcoholism to overcome the barriers in reaching out to the hither to neglected groups.

I would admit that it is not for the first attempt in the use of media to bring a  change in India.  Each episode of Satyamev Jayate has a very distinct  feature like detailed post production research and ground based connectivity through web based presence and simultaneous broadcast through All India Radio, Doordarshan (National Channel ) and STAR . “Aamir Khan”  as an actor and a producer, a big brand in his own terms of  popularity, credibility and social sensitivity added a value to the program.

Alcohol was one of the several issues like Female Foeticide – Child Sexual Abuse – Every Life Is Precious etc. featured in each episode. It communicated a hope  that India is changing and they were  very well received at the grass root level.

It reminded me of  my close associate  in combating the scourge of alcohol and other drugs problems Mr.T.K.Thomas and his work on alcohol and other drug education as the author of Radio DATE (Drug, Alcohol, Tobacco Education). I met him for the first time in 1990 at Navjyoti, Delhi Police Foundation head office in Police station Sari Rohila. He interviewed me as an expert on issues related to alcohol prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

Later Mr.Thomas joined Navjyoti Delhi Police Foundation as a volunteer for more than a decade. The program was an example of interactive media with a success rate of  “About 4% tobacco users in Goa and about 6% users in Karnataka quit their habit after listening to the programme. About 98% to 99% of the listeners expressed that such programmes should continue.”